This article is from Living Green: The Way of the Greatest Environmentalist (peace be upon him). Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Shaykh Ali Hani, and Ustad Amjad Tarsin answer questions on care, responsibility and stewardship of the environment. This is the fourth article in the series.
Allah tells us in the Quran:
وَمَا مِن دَاۤبَّة فِی ٱلۡأَرۡضِ وَلَا طَـٰۤىِٕر یَطِیرُ بِجَنَاحَیۡهِ إِلَّاۤ أُمَمٌ أَمۡثَالُكُمۚ مَّا فَرَّطۡنَا فِی ٱلۡكِتَـٰبِ مِن شَىْءٍۢ ۚ ثُمَّ إِلَىٰ رَبِّهِمۡ یُحۡشَرُونَ
“For not a single creature is there on earth, nor any bird flying on its wings, save they are nations like you: Not a single detail have We neglected in the Primal Record; Then finally and greater, to their Lord shall they be amassed” [Keller, The Quran Beheld 6:38]
All of these different forms of life are all communities just like you.
Islam is really about how we are human. In a very central hadith known as Al-Hadith al-musalsal bil-awwaliyat or the Hadith Rahma the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him says:
الرَّاحِمُونَ يَرْحَمُهُمُ الرَّحْمَنُ
“The merciful receive mercy from the All-Merciful.”
Any servant of the Creator is someone who shows mercy towards others. The hadith goes on to say:
ارْحَمُوا مَنْ فِي الأَرْضِ يَرْحَمْكُمْ مَنْ فِي السَّمَاءِ
“Show mercy to those on earth and the One in heaven will show you mercy.”
As believers we have a responsibility to everything on earth. We have a responsibility of mercy to all of humanity, animals, the environment, inanimate objects, and so forth.
Have a concern. Many problems that we have are due to wastefulness and people not worried about future generations. That is, people who do not care as long as they are not affected. That is not the way of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace).
There is even conservation when performing ablution. We are to be mindful of how much water we use even if at a river. Use only what is needed even if there’s a lot more of it. If everyone was to use more than what is required, it will run out. Someone else will suffer.
Do not be arrogant and wasteful. Your usage affects other people.
Eat good food. Scholars say that there is wisdom in what God has given us. What is meant by good food is blessed food. Food that nourishes.
Imam al-Nawawi had his own garden. He would only eat food that he grew himself because of the blessing. The food was taken care of and the process of production wasn’t oppressive. Scholars, particularly for spiritual blessing, were very careful about what they ate.
Nowadays, most animals grow in factories. Mistreatment of animals is extreme. Even the fruits and vegetables that we eat are sprayed with things we cannot ingest.
Having reverence for everything in creation. For Muslims, we are especially interconnected. Honoring creation is part of our honoring, loving and exalting the Creator.
تُسَبِّحُ لَهُ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَ ٰتُ ٱلسَّبۡعُ وَٱلۡأَرۡضُ وَمَن فِیهِنَّۚ وَإِن مِّن شَیۡءٍ إِلَّا یُسَبِّحُ بِحَمۡدِهِۦ وَلَـٰكِن لَّا تَفۡقَهُونَ تَسۡبِیحَهُمۡۚ إِنَّهُۥ كَانَ حَلِیمًا غَفُورا
“The seven heavens and earth magnify His limitless glory, as do all who are in them; And there is nothing whatever but glorifies His praise; But you do not comprehend their glorification; Verily was He ever graciously long-forbearing, all-forgiving.” [Keller, The Quran Beheld 17:44]
Everything glorifies Allah. All that you can see, the plants, the rocks, the clouds, the lightning bolts, the stars, the solar systems, everything is glorifying its Creator. All things are in alignment.
God gave us a way to live. Human beings who chose to pervert that straight path disbelieved. They went against the heavenly order so do not be surprised when there is earthly disorder.
The modern human being looks at nature as a resource for profit instead of realizing that everything has a purpose. We are not here to manipulate nature, but to reflect on it and to use it to fulfill our needs.
Reuse items. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is said to have named his bowls and cups. With disposable cups today, there is a lack of appreciation for where it came from and where it is going.
The capitalist system makes items that do not last to keep making money. However, with good quality clothing, you honor it. We should not just throw things away.
إِنَّ فِی خَلۡقِ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَ ٰتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِ وَٱخۡتِلَـٰفِ ٱلَّیۡلِ وَٱلنَّهَارِ لَـَٔایَـٰت لِّأُو۟لِی ٱلۡأَلۡبَـٰبِ
ٱلَّذِینَ یَذۡكُرُونَ ٱللَّهَ قِیَـٰما وَقُعُودا وَعَلَىٰ جُنُوبِهِمۡ وَیَتَفَكَّرُونَ فِی خَلۡقِ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَ ٰتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِ رَبَّنَا مَا خَلَقۡتَ هَـٰذَا بَـٰطِلا سُبۡحَـٰنَكَ فَقِنَا عَذَابَ ٱلنَّارِ
“Verily in the creation of the heavens and earth and the alternation of night and day are a multitude of mighty signs for those of insight and mind:
Those who make remembrance of Allah standing and sitting and on their sides at rest, and who reflect on the creation of the heavens and earth: ‘Our Lord, You have not created all this in vain; You are far above that! So keep from us the chastisement of the fire.” [Keller, The Quran Beheld 3:190-191]
Everything in creation is a sign of reflection for us. The natural order of the world is something for us to reflect upon.
There used to be a consideration for nature even in urbanization. Sadly, we have urbanization that smells bad and is polluted. People don’t smile at one another and even the presence of children is seen as strange by some.
God’s creation gives you a sense of peace. Mountain ranges, the sunrise, animals, the chirping of birds, all of these things are a means for us. Unfortunately, we look at our phones more than we look at the sky but that is not why we were created.
Everything about Islam is balance. Islam is harmony. Give everything its right. We can take from the resources of the world. Sure we eat, wear clothes, have jobs and so forth, but, we do so without withholding any rights.
This world was created as a place for us to worship God. God subjugated creation to humans, but not so that humans can abuse it. It is so that humans can use everything in its proper place.
أَلَّا تَطۡغَوۡا۟ فِی ٱلۡمِیزَانِ
وَأَقِیمُوا۟ ٱلۡوَزۡنَ بِٱلۡقِسۡطِ وَلَا تُخۡسِرُوا۟ ٱلۡمِیزَانَ
“That you transgress not in the scale;
And weigh out the full weight with utter fairness, and stint not wrongfully the scale” [Keller, The Quran Beheld 55:8-9]
If we are to carry on in opposition to the Sunna, we are on a path to self-destruction. We use up resources as if they are infinite and deal with the world today as if there is no generation to come.
As Muslims we have a role in saving the earth and its people and cannot sit idly by.